Gearing Up for my PhD: The Starting Line

This thing is now pretty darn real – I have received a ‘Welcome PhD student’ (OMG) email from the Depute Director (PGR) of the Graduate School of Education and Sport, outlining my start date and induction day. Next up was a conversation with my supervisors about our first meeting. All in all it is official, this PhD journey is totally happening.

Whilst thinking about this post, which was going to focus on spaces and stationery, it dawned on me that I haven’t written a single thing publicly about how I got to this point. I think that is mostly due to my inner self always holding back until a goal is achieved, just in case it may not work out the way I want it. That isn’t really that helpful though, is it? Journeys are the source of the learning and experience, not just getting the prize at the end and I absolutely know that this particular journey has no guarantee of a shiny prize at the end, a zillion things could go wrong to prevent that (stories on social media are testament to that). Yet, every day I keep going will be a prize in itself; meeting amazing people, becoming part of a whole new community of practice and getting grounded training in research methods, writing and publishing – all of it worth every minute of effort. So this is a timely reminder to keep nudging myself to write this up as I go along, not wait until things are perfect and complete, because let’s face it, that may be a long time coming, if ever.

That said, even though I am spending the summer gearing up, here is a short note as to how I got to this point.

Deep down I have always wanted to do a PhD but things never lined up just-so to make it happen; time and finances being the key limiting factors. However, by 2012 it began to sink in that there was NEVER going to be a perfect time. Life is just too achingly and relentlessly, messy and chaotic. So I voiced my desire in an appraisal meeting. Result = zip. The ensuing conversation focussed on why they thought it wasn’t a good idea for me and professional development goals set, ended up being documented as ‘further development on technical and management’ aspects (I looked this up the other day just to remind myself that it was real!). Did I want to become more technical? Nope. Did I want to focus on managerial studies? Absolutely, nope. After reading this fab article this morning, wearing a moustache at that meeting may very well have ended with a better outcome …

(As an aside, this was one of the key drivers for me to get involved in #femedtech – to have our words listened to, not just heard, as well as learning from a bunch of strong, successful women.)

Anyway, after that life trundled on, fast-paced with life and work. Then in 2015 I decided to take control and start the journey on my own steam. I enrolled on the Digital Education MSc at the University of Edinburgh and secured institutional funding for it. I had an absolute blast over the next couple of years throughout the taught modules but kept my eye on my goal, I talked over the pros and cons of finishing the MSc versus going from Diploma straight to PhD with my tutors, and opted to just go for it. So during my last module, I used all the valuable experience and confidence from my studies to go ahead and write a research proposal, submit it to Edinburgh and cold-call approach the person I thought would be the perfect supervisor (no apologies for blatant compliments). Incredibly, this was successful on each front and takes me to today, counting down to Day 1, 1st October, 2018.

Thanks and thanks again to all those who have helped me achieve the unachievable. The spaces and stationery post will have to wait until another day.

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